Now that I’m becoming a teacher, I of course can’t help but remember all of my educational experiences, and how my teachers and school mates impacted my life. I grew up in schools, my mom was a school librarian at a small little country school I attended from Kindergarten all the way to seventh grade. She became very close to all the teachers and staff there, and I would always go after hours and wonder the halls and meander my way to teachers classrooms. I would ask them questions about teaching, and “pretend” I was a teacher. I suppose school always seemed like home to me, and that’s what I wanted my career to be, at home.
There was a time, when I was a junior in high school, and I very much disliked my math teacher! I hated math! I was terrible at it and I didn’t think it was fair that I had to be there, I already knew how to do basic algebra, what was the point of taking advanced? Where was I ever going to use that information? Well as it turns out I didn’t try very hard in the class due to my terrible attitude, and was soon failing. I could tell my teacher didn’t like me a whole lot in return, but still wanted me to succeed (maybe because he didn’t want to ever see me in his class again)!
He asked me one day if I could come in after school and he would help walk me through what I needed to do, or help me with what I didn’t understand. We got to talking, and he wanted to know what my interests were and why I didn’t particularly like his class. He knew I had no ambition at this point for the subject, but after painfully sitting through his instructions, I DID in fact start to understand! After I started to understand what I was doing, I enjoyed math, and enjoyed coming to his class! It was reaching out to me, and figuring out how his instruction technique could help me, really clicked with me. Now, I think about him all the time taking classes on how to help students learn. I always think of how I could be like him, how can I reach out to my students?
I can recall another time when my piano teacher, as a matter of fact, changed my whole thinking about what it means to be a great educator. I would say I was probably about sixteen or seventeen at the time, and still taking piano lessons. Yes, I probably was too old. Anyhow, my parents made me take the lessons until I got good at it, and once again, I didn’t like playing piano, I was forced to do it, and if I’m being forced you can bet your bottom dollar, I’m gonna make sure I retaliate.
Well, one day she asked me, “Cori, why on earth don’t you like playing the piano? You could be so good if you would just try!” I remember saying, “But my parents bug me about it, I want to do it on my own time, I want to play when no one is listening for my mistakes, and practice because I enjoy it.” She told me that, “If you do enjoy it, who cares who’s listening to your mistakes, who cares if your the worst piano player on earth, you play because it sets you free, not for the enjoyment of pleasure for others.”
Wow! If that wasn’t the best piano lesson I’ve ever had! I left thinking so much that day about my life, and my education, and what I wanted to learn, and what I enjoyed learning. I think we should all inspire others to be individuals and find what makes our world ‘tick’. I want to inspire this in my own students someday, to give them the resources to ignite their passions in life
When I was going to a small community college, I had a professor who was probably the meanest old mad, very strict, and no one liked taking his class. He taught American Government, and I was determined to get a good grade in this class so I would have all honors. I would make it a point to write down questions that I wanted to ask him, mostly to just take up class-time so he wouldn’t pick on other students.
One day I asked him one of the questions I had written down and he just stared at me for a good few minutes, everyone in the class looking at me, and then looking at him, then looking back at me! He said, “Never, in all my thirty years teaching, has anyone ever asked me that question. I can’t even give you an answer because I never even asked that question.” It was then that I realized that teachers could be educated by their students just as much as students could be educated by the teacher.
Recently I have substitute taught for the local preschool here. I have learned so much about learning, I have had to start a journal about it. For one, those little four year old’s love learning! They actually want to know everything about everything at that age, and it is such a treat to be able to teach even the smallest of ideas to kids. I remember we learned how to plant flowers, and everyone got to have a seed, and watch it grow. I had a student ask me, “Can we give our flowers a name?” Really a name for your flower? Well, alright, that’s actually a great idea. So when their flowers bloomed they were telling their parents about their flower’s and some parents asked me who the new kid in class was.
It’s seriously the small things in life, that make the greatest impact on our minds. I don’t know where I would be today without these great students, teachers, and life mentors in my life. I wouldn’t have the best experiences to share with my students, that for sure!